My cancer was quite the little debutant today. Although my very close friends have known about my situation since it began, I decided it was time to go public to the other people who matter to me. Since I was able to talk to my graduate school professors about my situation, the time was right to let my classmates know that it would be a while before I could return to school. Since some of you are now maybe reading this, I just want to say – your support has been overwhelming. I am truly overcome with emotion when I think about how many people have been there for me in this difficult time. I never imagined this kind of support and love. But enough about that, I don’t want this blog to turn into guerrilla marketing for A Walk To Remember 2: Boobs Edition. (Just kidding, that’s so not what I’m going to call the screenplay I’m gonna write about this. It’s gonna be titled All My Friends Got Engaged, and I Got Cancer.)
Today was the first day since I returned from Costa Rica that I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment on the schedule. But that wasn’t going to stand because when you have cancer, it feels really, really weird to just sit around eating See’s Candies (thanks Laura!) and watching TV. So I sat around thinking about cancer for several hours and eventually came up with some questions I wanted to ask my oncologist. I emailed her, but she’s the best of the best and extremely busy so I figured it might be a few days before she could get back to me.
A few minutes later, my phone rang. Truthfully, I have a bit of PTSD when it comes to the phone ringing since for the last few days, it’s only been ringing with test results and pathology, and that is always stressful. I stared at the number for a while before deciding to put on my big girl pants and answer.
Oncologist: “Hi, I just got your email.”
Me: “Wow! I can’t believe you called. Aren’t you busy? I really just emailed you to pass the time and feel like I was being proactive, my questions aren’t that urgent. You can go back to like, curing cancer. I mean, wow. This is just…wow.”
Her: “Honey, you have cancer. You get to have your questions answered as soon as possible.”
She went on to answer all of my questions in exquisite detail. No wonder everyone recommends her. She’s the best. I really shouldn’t call her “my oncologist” yet, though – I’m still meeting with a few more doctors for second, third, fourth, fifth opinions. I feel like I’m speed-dating cancer specialists. If you ever get The Big C (God forbid), ask me who you should see – I’m quickly becoming an expert.
She also agreed to let me come and check out the infusion center at USC, which was incredibly generous since there’s really no reason for me to care. (Again, I just need to feel proactive about my cancer. It’s like the car alarm of my brain is going off and I need to do something to calm it.) Her amazing nurse, who shares my name, showed me around and put me at ease about what’s to come when it’s time for chemo.
When I saw the infusion center at Cedars-Sinai, it was New Year’s Day, so the place was pretty empty. Today, this infusion center was bustling with activity. It’s weird to think that they’re all there for the exact same reason I am. Every single one of them is there because they have cancer, and every single day these amazing nurses and doctors do everything in their power to cure them. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t. But in spite of everything, the people in the infusion room looked calm and collected. They were reading, watching TV, doing sudoku, laughing with their friends and family. I admit to having done some other bizarre cancer research, like checking out the #chemo hashtag on Instagram, and more and more, I’m realizing that everyone who has to go through this is just like me: scared, but normal and (mostly) happy and ready to just keep on keepin’ on.